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I qualified as a Social Worker in 2006. I applied for some posts, and was elated when i got an offer at a local Authority. I thought, at the time that the pay was great and to be honest i really was proud of my achievement regarding getting through my 3 year degree; especially considering i was a mature student. (I am not currently practicing). Prior to commencing my social work degree course, i went on an access course which believe it or not was harder than the first year at Uni! It taught me well though and I learned alot. The access course was very good in preparing me for my degree. The degree course involved a great deal of learning; in the year i went to university it was the first time the degree had been taught. Prior to this social workers needed a diploma (which took 2 years to complete). At university we were taught some important and essential things about child development; values and ethics, social policy, law, communication skills, evidence based practice, anti discriminatory practice. The only area that i felt at the time we should have been taught about was drugs and alcohol. Barely any time was spent on this at all. It is my understanding that this subject area may be taught more often in the future. In our 2nd and 3rd years we had to go on a practice placement. I found these placements to be very rewarding and alot was learnt. All in all i enjoyed my time at Uni and the time flew past. Social work is evolving and changing all the time and i do feel that strenuous efforts are made to try to improve this important vocation.
I had actually considered going into primary teaching when deciding upon my career path; and it was only at the last minute, i chose social work. I basically chose it due to life experiences and felt that I would enjoy it and actually be good at it. At the time i had two young children so i knew it would be tough all round but felt sure it would be worth it.
It was more of a fluke that I went into working with children and families (child protection and child in need work) ; I had originally thought about working with older people and some advice was given at Uni about how tough working in children and families would be. This advice did prove to be correct. However, i did overall enjoy my job. We had a great team, i was very empathetic with the families; i think i was a hard worker and i always tried to be fair. Of course, the main priority is to protect children from harm, so their safety/ needs must be placed first above all else.
One good thing about the local authority i worked for was that there were plenty of opportunities for further learning and many training courses were available to take. Continuing professional development is essential for social workers as you have to be on the social work register in order to practice; which is currently renewable every 3 years. You need to have done at least 90 hours training/learning within those 3 years.
The work load of a children and families social worker is a very large one. you have to maintain very up to date records, there are dead lines for reports to be completed and deadlines regarding visiting children. This is essential in order to protect children. In my view and experience the amount of time actually spent doing work on the computer was enormous. Whilst of course it is essential and must be done; it is my view that more time should be spend engaging with and visiting, children and families in person. The thing is that everything had to be done and it is my view that caseloads should have been less. If a social worker is overloaded with cases, they may find it difficult to work to their best ability; this in turn also creates stress.
It is very difficult being a social worker in this field of work; you can sometimes be seen by the public to be either doing too little, or too much (hence my heading; your damned if you do and damned if you don't).
Unfortunately Social Workers are not very popular with the general public; but the public are not told about all the hard work and all the successes of social work; they are always only told negative things by the media. This doesn't help matters and also tends to put people off from wanting to become social workers. Of course there have been some terrible cases of child abuse which are extremely upsetting and shocking and if and when mistakes are made, of course this needs to be dealt with and lessons learned.
The sad thing is that no matter how much social workers and the management try to protect children from harm; we cannot be there 24/7 and unfortunately tragedies will continue to happen. The essential thing is for the practice to continue to be looked at; for all social workers to have excellent support in the workplace; and continuing training and development.
The pay is not too bad, it varies depending on where you work; a social worker in london may get around £32,000 per year. Considering the demands of social work with children and families, i think it should be more, but most people don't enter into this profession for money, but for a vocation and because, like me, they want to try to make a difference and help people.
Social Workers don't have to work in the most demanding field of work though; it can be very rewarding working with older adults/children/people with disabilities/hospital social work. There is also Educational Social Work/mental health and many other avenues or areas to go down. You can apply for work in other countries and indeed, should you wish to and be successful, live in another country. So that can't be bad!
Yes, it can be tough being a social worker, but i found it overall to be rewarding and enjoyed working with the children and families; trying to make a difference and ensure that children are kept within their families wherever possible. So try not to be too hard on social workers. We are a good bunch really!
I'm a qualified social worker, and have been since I completed my BA degree in Social Work last summer. I'm working as a social worker for a local authority not, with vulnerable adults. It's a very interesting job, but it's also very full on... I've currently got a case load in the mid twenties, and when I'm at work I rarely get a minute's peace. There's always people to ring or visit. My caseload is really varied, and includes anyone over the age of 18 - older adults, adults with physical or learning difficulties, or mental health issues.
I originally became a social worker because I wanted to work with people, my degree took three years to complete, although if you have a first degree then you can just do the 2 year masters course. I got paid to do my degree - tuition fees were covered and I was paid a £3000 / year bursary. This has changed now, you can check out what the bursary is now on the GSCC website. The degree included 200 days on a social work placement.
After my degree, I was actually lucky and got the first job I applied for. I'm on duty once every four days, which means screening every referral we get, and responding to emergencies.
All in all, I really enjoy the variety of my work - I could be supporting someone with learning difficulties to employ a support worker, arranging carers for an older adult, helping someone apply for a grant to redecorate their flat, or I could be at the police station sitting in on an interview.
Sometimes I just wish there just wasn't so much work to be done!
I'm a social work student in my first year of study (UK). In the UK you need either a 3 year undergraduate degree or a 2 year postgraduate masters degree (if you already have an undergraduate degree). You study at university and there are many universities throughout the UK which hold social work courses. To get onto a social work course you will need a good range of experiences within the care industry (paid or voluntary) and good qualifications such as A-levels, Access course and so on. For example, to get a place on the social work course I'm studying I needed BBB at A-level or equivelent UCAS points. UCAS is the organisation in which you apply to university through.
I would like to add that all universities are different. At the university I am studying at the first year is more of an introduction. The topics are sociology, psychology, law, social policy, basic practice as a social worker, issues of diversity, research on communities and so on. In my first year I have written several essays, had 2 written exams, one multiple choice exam, two web-based tests and one practical exam at the end of the year. The practical exam is very important and assesses whether you are capable enough of practising social work. It is a role play with a service user and if you pass this you can progress onto your second year.
In the second and third years you go on placement where you work with social workers in order to gain experience. In order to qualify as a social worker you need at least 200 days practice. You are continously assessed by the social workers you practice with and you are assessed on how you deal with situations and so on. During the 2nd and 3rd years you are also in university and have various essays and exams.
If you are dedicated and commited you will find this degree manageable. It really is a very tough degree and very time consuming so you have to be very organised. For example, when being on placement you have to work 40 hours per week (unpaid), plus time in university and time on essays, portfolio, exam revision and so on.
There is a social work bursary available which you don't have to pay back based on your circumstances. Mine is £4575 per year. However you do have to pay for the degree yourself.
When I graduate I would like to work in adult services, although I could have changed my mind by then! :)
The year is 1970, a young woman in her early twenties has a brief relationship with a young man of about the same age resulting in a child, a baby boy being born. The young mother wants nothing to do with the baby's father and moves with her baby son, who she calls Simon to another part of the country. In due course, she meets and marries another man and goes on to have a daughter. It will be many years before Simon, by a sheer fluke of circumstances meets his natural father. It is 1986. I trained as a Social Worker and after living in the south of England for many years, I am offered a job with the adoption and fostering services in the north of England. I was born and spent my formative years near Liverpool, so I relocate to the outskirts of that city with my husband, who was a Ticket Inspector for British Rail. The Social Services offices were located near a Childrens Home and most of it's residents were children between the ages of 13 and 17 years. This is the story of some of the children who resided at that Home. It is a true story, but I have changed all names and some details so that they cannot be recognised. As the reader will see, most of these children had behavioural and emotional problems and placing with foster parents had either already been tried unsuccessfully, or it was not deemed to be appropriate. Rachel Rachel was different from most of the children in Social Service's care. Rachel did not come from an impoverished background and both of her parents were still together. Rachel's father was a successful businessman in the city. She was 14 years old and had been received into care because she was 'beyond parental control' - a term applied to many cases. Rachel was a habitual absconder. She was a plump and pretty girl who had ran away from home from the age of 12. She was usually found and returned to her parents. The last time she had run away, the police had discovered he
r in the company of men much older than herself. Rachel's mother was at her wit's end and had placed her daughter in the care of Social Services for her own protection. Robbie Robbie was a loner; he made few friends in the Childrens Home. He was a large surly lad of about 17 years and spoke few words. He had a violent temper and would lash out with his fists at anyone including the social workers. His current Social Worker was a kind and understanding person, who he had managed not to thump. She had given him a teddy bear, so that he could take his temper out on an inanimate object, rather than a person. It seemed to be working. Robbie had received no contact from any members of his family since coming into care at a young age. Robbie did show a kind and caring nature towards animals though as he showed on one occasion when he turned up unexpectedly on my doorstep to see my horses. He put his arms around my old horse and gave him a hug. Becky Becky was 17 years of age when I first met her. She had her own room in the Childrens Home with it's own facilities, unlike the other children, who lived in same sex dormitories. Becky had a child, a baby boy, who lived with her. She was in regular contact with the baby's father and they could often be seen pushing the pram around the city. She seemed to be a caring mother, who kept the baby clean and well fed. Becky was a sullen, scowling girl, diminutive in stature. The other children in the Home, boys and girls, were frightened of her; if she did not get her own way, she would lash out with her fists. Becky's parents had committed suicide when she was a child and she had been in Council care from a young age. Maggie Maggie was a tall, slim blonde girl who was around 14 years of age and had been placed in care for her own protection. Maggie was in regular contact with her mother. Maggie's father was serving a prison sentence for ch
ild abuse. Over a number of years he had sexually abused all his children, boys and girls. Maggie would shortly be discharged from care and return to her mother. When her father was released from prison, Maggie's mother took him back into her home. Consequently, all the children of whom Maggie was the oldest came back into Social Services care again. Louise Louise was a likeable bubbly girl. She got on well with the other children. She was one of a large family of children and was eventually placed with foster parents. Simon I first met Simon when he strolled into the office one spring morning with fishing rod in hand. He was a tall and slightly awkward looking youth of 15 years but had a nice smile and would chat away to anyone who would listen to him. I was told that Simon was retarded and attended a school for Special Needs Children some twenty minutes away by train. Simon's mother had had problems with the boy since he was 6 years of age and he had been in and out of care since that age. It turned out many years later that the boy's stepfather had no patience with him and would remove his belt and hit him with it. Simon had a dog which he was devoted too and which his mother cared for whilst Simon was at the Home. On one occasion, after a particularly violent beating from his stepfather, the man took the dog to the vets to be destroyed. One evening whilst I was at home with my husband; he remarked he had on several occasions in the course of his work for British Rail come across a young man travelling on a train to school whilst carrying a fishing rod. He had laughed and joked with the boy, who obviously had no intention of going to school, but spent his time fishing in a nearby river. My husband, who was a keen fisherman himself, could see that the boy did not have much in the way of suitable tackle, so promised him a reel, hooks etc. And so a friendship began between my husband and Simon.
If the reader has not by now put two and two together, please go back and read my opening paragraph. I had realised almost immediately that the boy was my husband's son. The relationship between Simon's mother and my husband had happened long before my time. In fact Simon is his only child. When Simon was discharged from care he came to live with myself and my husband and spent the next three years in our home. I cannot say life was a bed of roses because it was not. Simon was a rebellious teenager who got in constant trouble with the police. His misdemeanours were mostly not too serious, fights with other boys his own age or minor motoring offences (he had bought himself a motorbike). I soon learned that my stepson could not read or write; he turned out to be dyslexic, but this had not been picked up previously. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> To conclude this story, we move on to the present time. The reader may be asking what has happened to Simon and his friends from the Childrens Home. Simon is now 31 years old. He has bought his own home and has a wife and two children. He can now read and write and has worked for the same building firm for nine years. And he is a whizz with computers. Although I now live about 200 miles from him, we still keep in regular contact. He still enjoys fishing. Robbie, with no family or friends to support him, was discharged from Social Services care to a bedsit on achieving his 18th birthday. He relied on the State to support him, had no job and small chance of obtaining employment. He has been in and out of prison and is at present serving a sentence for armed robbery. Maggie committed suicide by hanging herself when she was in her early twenties. The last I heard of Rachel, she was working as a prostitute in the red light area of Liverpool. Becky has had four children by four different men. All her children have been t
aken away from her and are in Social Services care. Becky recently served a prison sentence in Holloway for child abuse and neglect. She battered one of her children. Of all the children in the care of Social Services, I would have expected Louise's to be a story of hope and success. She had a better start to adulthood than most. When she was discharged from care, she continued in her close relationship with her former foster parents and had regular contact with her family. She married, but her relationship broke up. Louise took an overdose of drugs and killed herself, leaving two young children motherless. Simon is a success story. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the other children. Each Social Worker had such a high caseload that it was impossible to give each child the attention they needed. It is small wonder that cases of child abuse and neglect slip through the net and still continue to do so. I left my job in Social Services in 1988, I was disillusioned with a system which discharges children from it's care when they reach their 18th birthday; some without friends or family or suitable training or hope for the future. It is small wonder some have turned to a life of crime. Or those children that were in care, now have children of their own who are in care. The cycle goes on.... Janna 10th September